For the first time since the Grand Jury was formed in 1879 it has a home. The offices will allow the members to discuss ongoing investigations more freely, and store the numerous volumes of records in one location.
"The jury has been without permanent office and storage space since its inception," James Clayton, foreman, said. "Grand juries who have served Maderans have been ... housed in various locations within the government buildings. The new offices give the Grand Jury the ability to store records and conduct business in an absolutely private location."
Because of the nature of the Grand Jury's function, Clayton is not disclosing the new office's location.
"Although past grand juries have been able to function in secret and confidentiality, storage of documents has been in locked cabinets within the Government Center and the old jail in Courthouse Square," Clayton said. "We are thrilled that Presiding Judge Edward Moffat gave us the go-ahead to obtain this direly needed space."
The jury also has a new post office box and phone number. Citizens wishing to write the grand jury may do so at P.O. Box 534, Madera, CA 93639-0946. All correspondence must contain the citizen's name, address, phone number and signature.
The grand jury is manned each calendar year with citizens who perform several important functions within the county. All serve on the jury voluntarily.
The jury's primary mission is to review and audit all county, city, and state governmental departments and agencies. The jury may be called upon by the District Attorney to review criminal cases for possible indictments. Another function of the jury is to review and investigate complaints from citizens who have exhausted their paths of resolution to problems within the various governmental agencies, Clayton explained.
"The jury generally does not investigate cases which are currently under litigation or under investigation by a bona fide appointed government agency," Clayton said.
At the end of each calendar year, the jury publishes a report containing a summary of some of the less confidential cases and investigations, Clayton said, as well as recommendations to the various governmental departments.